Washington defeated Philadelphia 7-0 on Friday, Nov. 1, and no, I am not talking about the Redskins and Eagles. This was an NHL game. The Capitals defeated the Flyers by a touchdown in an absolutely embarrassing loss that is just indicative of the Flyers’ season thus far. The Flyers are one of the worst teams in the Metropolitan Division, and the Eastern Conference as a whole. They fired head coach Peter Laviolette after the first three games of the season, thinking that a change in coaching would be the answer to righting the ship, but they were wrong. The Flyers are still struggling mightily in every aspect of the game, and the game against Washington seemed to be the last straw.
Being completely decimated on their home ice, the Flyers decided to take out their frustrations, not only for the embarrassing performance they had against the Capitals that night, but for their entire season of struggles. After Washington scored the seventh goal, Flyers’ forward Wayne Simmonds was checked two Capitals’\ players with authority. The second Capitals player, Tom Wilson, did not take to the hit from Simmonds well, and decided to drop the gloves with him. This then led to a brawl between everyone on the ice that led to 114 penalty minutes total, including the goaltender. That’s right, goaltender Ray Emery of the Flyers and Braden Holtby of the Capitals threw down the gloves and pads as well and fought, but one was much more willing than the other.
Emery went all the way down to the other side of the ice to fight Holtby, but Holtby didn’t seem to be interested. The referee attempted to get in the way, but Emery wasn’t going to be stopped. He started wailing on Holtby, even though Holtby never took off his pads, and hit him quite a few times before Holtby was able to take off his glove and pad and defend himself fully. I think that this entire situation was ridiculous, and both the Flyers and the NHL should be ashamed of themselves.
The Flyers are having a bad season, but that does not give them the right to take out their aggression on the Capitals because they were getting embarrassed at home. The game was already out of hand, and the only reason that they decided to fight the Capitals was because they were frustrated and wanted to take their aggression out on someone. But what did that do? They still lost the game and are still one of the worst teams in the NHL. Maybe the Flyers felt better after throwing a few punches, but at the end of the day they lost the game and are still struggling mightily in every other facet of hockey.
What’s even more embarrassing is how the NHL dealt with Emery after his fight with Holtby. First off, goalies rarely fight at all, and when they do it is usually consensual between the two players. In this instance, Emery and Holtby didn’t agree to the fight and Emery just wanted to hit someone, much like the rest of his Flyer teammates who were frustrated. After the game, Emery received the third star of the game, in a 7-0 loss in which he let in four goals on 15 shots in his 23 minutes of work. I highly doubt he received honors for his goaltending performance, but rather the 29 penalty minutes he received.
Even worse than the fight itself was Emery’s comments after the game about the fight. When asked about the fight, he said “[Holtby] didn’t want to fight, but I basically said ‘Protect yourself,’” showing that he didn’t care whether or not Holtby wanted to fight, he just wanted to hit someone.
Fighting a player, especially a goaltender, who was unwilling to fight should be considered at least suspension-worthy, but the NHL did not give Emery even one game. He was even “awarded” by being named the third start of the game in a blowout for his team that he did nothing to help. The Flyers might’ve thought this fight would spark their team and give them the energy they need to turn their season around, but all it did was make them look desperate and pathetic. Emery and the Flyers shouldn’t be happy that they won a few fights in a 7-0 loss, but should rather try and channel that emotion and energy into their offense and defense so that they can get some points as opposed to penalty minutes.